Talk about Newsnight

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Monday, 12 May, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 12 May 08, 05:41 PM

mizenflowers203.jpgFrom tonight's presenter, Kirsty Wark.

Teenage violence

"I don't feel anger, just sorrow for the parents of our son's killer."

These were the dignified and moving words of Margaret Mizen, whose son Jimmy was murdered on his 16th birthday. He was killed on Saturday morning in London when broken glass from an apparently unprovoked attack at a baker's shop lodged in his neck.

His death is the 13th teenage murder in London this year. The first pledge made by Boris Johnson, when he became Mayor of London, was to tackle the culture of teenage violence in the capital, and yesterday - at a global Day of Prayer - he reiterated his commitment.

But the problem is certainly not confined to London - last summer Rhys Jones, just 11 years old, was shot dead in Liverpool by two youths.

Tonight, we'll be discussing the ease with which teenagers turn to violence and how best to change the culture that breeds it.

China's earthquake

South West China has suffered its worst earthquake for 30 years, and several thousand people have been killed in the south-western province of Sichuan alone, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Many were buried as schools, factories and dormitories collapsed in the force of the quake with a magnitude of 7.8. Several hundred are buried in two collapsed chemical plants. China's President Hu Jintao has called for all out rescue efforts after the quake, the reverberations of which were felt 900 miles away in Beijing.

We'll have the latest from China on the devastation and the rescue effort, and what the government's response tells us about China in 2008.

Gordon's future

"Psychologically flawed."

Do you remember when that description of Gordon Brown was attributed to Alistair Campbell? Wrongly, Campbell says.

It was back in 1998 but the idea that Gordon sat "gathering his brows like a gathering storm nursing his wrath to keep it warm" (apologies to Burns) for the whole of the Blair years has not been dispelled by his demeanour as PM, and certainly not by the trio of autobiographies from Lord Levy, John Prescott and Cherie Blair.

And we know that his most recent travails over a Scottish referendum on Independence have put him in a very black mood. This weekend the Labour backbencher Frank Field said that he had been at the receiving end of a Brown rage in the past, and that he should not lead Labour to the next election - those closest to him should tell him when is the best time to go. We'll be gazing into Gordon Brown's future.

The cost of living

...and inflation. Tomorrow the National office of Statistics publishes the official figures but what is the true cost of living these days? How does it affect us all? We'll have the answers.

(Click here to take part in iPMs study of credit crunch concerns around the country.)


  • Comment number 1.


    Nurture of the young is now, routinely, insidiously, psychologically violent.
    Entertainment of grown-ups is routinely both physically and psychologically violent.
    Care for the elderly is violent; active or subtly, by default.
    Why would teenagers be left out?

  • Comment number 2.

    The whole problem with Balls, Cooper and
    Gordon Brown is that they have no Labour
    Party Conference to bring them back under
    control with old fashioned votes of censure.

    It is very different in Australia where New South Wales 'New Labour' Premier Morris
    Iema and his team of ministers are facing
    heavy criticism as well - in this case over
    power utility privatisation. For details of
    the speeches at this party show-down
    and film footage of the 'Aussie' Rules
    debate at their party conference see:

    Bob Crow is a pussycat compared to this lot!

  • Comment number 3.

    As Labour heads towards a train wreck in Crewe, it might be interesting to hear the
    views of Tribune Editor Chris Mullin MP on
    today's extraordinary 10p tax rate bustup between Gordon Brown/Frank Field - and
    the Government's determination to press
    ahead with 42 days detention ................
    and perhaps also the EDF bid for British
    Energy and GB's plans for nuclear power.

    Or why not interview Michael Foot soon?!
    or even Michael White of 'The Guardian'?!
    From The Guardian Mon May 12 (page 9):

    Campaigning Labour MP to stand down at election

    The editor of Tribune newspaper, Chris Mullin, is to stand down as MP for Sunderland South at the next general election. The 60-year old MP, who campaigned successfully to free the Birmingham Six, wrongly convicted of Irish terrorist offences, was a minister at environment, overseas development and the Foreign Office until dropped by Tony Blair. "After careful thought, I have reluctantly decided that my useful life in parliament is over and I will not, therefore, be a candidate at the next election," he said. He has held the seat since 1987. His majority in 2005 was 11,059.

    Michael White
    NB Labour lost in the local elections in the constituency of MP Hillary Armstrong - is it meltdown in the North East of England I wonder for Labour at the next elections?

  • Comment number 4.

    The problem with 'zero tolerance' is that it makes all innocent young people, but especially black ones, constant targets for police scrutiny. In our concern to deal with youth crime, we seem to forget that most young people are more likely to be victims than perpetrators. Far from solving problems, stop and search and zero-tolerance policies run the risk of exacerbating them as we potentially alienate more youngsters, reinforcing or creating the belief that the system is against them. A trip to London Fields in Hackney on a summer's evening will provide plenty of evidence: the mere fact of being black, young and with friends makes you a regular target.
    Clearly society has a difficult dilemma, but removing civil liberties from whole sections in a democracy will not solve it. Contrarily, people must know they too have a stake in a decent society.

  • Comment number 5.

    One bit of good news for the beleagured Prime Minister tonight, however: Ceefax
    is reporting that radio signals from his
    limousine did not after all cause a 777
    to crash-land at Heathrow .................

  • Comment number 6.

    The cost of living

    1) Why is the Government instructing the Bank Of England which inflation figures it has to use ?

    If the Bank is going to be truly independent it should be able choose the figures it wants to use as a inflation indicator or indicators .It should not be hi jacked by political projects .

    2) Why people think prices are going up faster than they actually are ?

    Because wage increases over the past 5 years have only been going up by the CPI figure or less and thus there has been wage deflation.

    In the Good times people did not noticed as they had lots of credit , now credit is harder to come by and now we are in the 5th year of wage deflation which has a accumulative effect on wages.
    Combine that with Sterlings devaluation that makes imported products more expensive ,any price increases are becoming more noticeable to the public.

    Glad News Night have highlighted some of these issues !

  • Comment number 7.

    It was suggested by all three panelists--Damiola Taylor's father, London's deputy mayor and the country's most trenchant and perceptive social commentator, Melanie Phillips--that the dismemberment of the family of the permanently married mother and father and only their children was a principal cause of teenage violence. Boys are no longer brought up to be responsible fathers, and they are left in a cultural vaccum that they fill with all sorts of alternatives, one of them being the binge drinker or drug abuser, another being the macho knife-wielding thug. Kirsty Wark responded with the comment that "families come in all shapes and sizes", so the panel would "have to be careful about going there", or words to that effect. That the married family is on average superior, and far superior, to any other way of handling the sexual and reproductive relations of men and women and the upbringing of law-abiding and productive children is a view that is anathema to the BBC. That is one important reason, though of course not by any means the only one, why fatherhood within the framework of life-long monogamy is slowly becoming a historical relic in wide swathes of our multiculural society. It is also the reason why the chaos that the destruction of the institution of married fatherhood has inflicted on children and adolescents is not likely to tackled within the terms of our present "hegemonic" culture (to use a term beloved of the student revolutionaries who now constitute the establishment). We'll just go on as we have for the past 40 years of civil decline, seeking panaceas in utterly peripheral policies, fiddling while Rome burns.

  • Comment number 8.

    What's all the fuss about? The Labour Government says there is no evidence of increased teenage violence! So more of the same old pat on the head and a Mars Bar?

    We need "zero tolerance" and increased police powers of police "stop and search". We must create an environment in which those who carry offensive weapons do so only at great risk of being caught and jailed.

  • Comment number 9.

    There are many factors which produces antisocial behaviour and the ever common murderous wilful acts from our youth, lies not just with the socially and morally undernourished family but with the weak system of punishment from our criminal justice system. Also the progressive teaching methods introduced in the 60s with the wholesale removal of disipline. You can sandwich all other known factors in between the two aforementioned such as for example a poor education, a police force that is more reactionary than preventive- the list goes on and on.
    One factor that was missing from this newsnight report and subsequent discussion was the cultural aspect of criminal behavior. Its a subject that many tread carefully as its too controversial: studies will always show that young black men are more involved in gun and knife crime, not exclusivly but considering the afro/carribean are a minority within these Islands they still top the crime stats for gang related stabbing, shootings, muggings ect...a fact that can't be debated in any other way, other than the usual excuse that the knife holder is a victim too. The backdrop of the fallen victims shown behind Kirsty and the newsnight guest is in itself an indicator of the common black on black crime but this known fact and often-times reported state of affairs within the black community was never mentioned on tonights Newsnight (rarely reported from the BBC).

    On a day when the BBC more or less reported that policies are in place within certain communities to monitor and keep the peace in some heavily populated multicultural cities and towns with the aid of police awareness officers; an admission that sectarianism litters this landscape already.(i digress).. The Gun and knife culture has always been here but its more synonymous within the black street life that has, overtime, seeped into the popular world of music and attitude for many youths and from all walks of life.
    From the Albanian criminal to the Zimbabwean criminal who reside here, all with their own brand of attitudes and responses when protecting their own 'business, patch or street. With an ineffectual police force and useless Justice system- the children from these different communities will grow up not much different from the Afro/Caribbean in the 70/80s; many who felt disenfranchised and who lashed out at its host but screamed "victim" with money thrown at them as an answer to their woes. If criminal acts from all cultures including the Indigenous that reside here are not punished harshly with some brave radical thinking politician putting forward such a policy ...well, we are all in serious trouble (major understatement).

    To summarize: taking all factors into account; the main reason there is a high level of gun and knife culture on our streets is....its an import!

  • Comment number 10.

    I am not a teenager, I am a very angry grandmother. If I was a teenager, I'd probably be armed to the teeth since there is no protection from so-called UK society. No police when you need them, only there when pensioners refuse to pay council taxes or TV licences. You may also find a couple if you place the wrong rubbish in a bin and don't close it properly.
    Thanks to an immoral ethos perpetuated by this government of incompetent cretins, there is no family life. Marriage has been downgraded, and unmarried mothers on benefits fill up social housing meant for hard-working, economically disadvantaged families. The children of these women are feral hooligans who roam the streets with nobody daring to control them.
    Now, Chief Lord Justice Phillips who modelled a new costume for his fellow clowns (the judges) has proclaimed that possession o a knife should not be punishable by a prison sentence. He would do less damage, if he made a permanent career as a model, he certainly couldn't be worse than he is as a judge!
    Yes, I am very angry.


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